Our last few episodes have been focused on Technology Enabled Service Models, and we’ve discussed the role of technology in the future design of how services are delivered. Today we’re taking an in-depth look into the actual hardware and software offered through iLink Technologies as Mike walks you through the fully configurable options for remote support.
In talking about Technology Enabled Service Models our goal is to deliver services organically that ebb and flow around needs. We strive to do this in a way that is inclusive and individualized for each resident’s home; but in order to bring the vision of The Final Rule to life, we need an infrastructure of technology. iLink helps people live the lives they want, in the home of their choosing, with services provided organically at the moment and place of need.
“Our goal with Technology Enabled Service Models is to deliver services organically that ebb and flow around needs.”
In today’s episode we’ll be reviewing the standard iLink in-home installation, talking a bit about iLink Assist (our proprietary software), and showing you how remote support is offered from the viewpoint of the customer.
iLink’s Technology Infrastructure
The Base Station: The central hub
To begin, let’s talk about our standard in-home installation. iLink Technologies offers a completely wireless system that enables a variety of upgrades so that you can customize additional support or features down the road without having to replace any of the components.
The central component in this system is our iLink Base Station. It is the connector of all of the equipment in the home and can be connected to any standard internet hookup. We’ve designed the Base Station to improve our customer’s ability to self-direct their lives and control the level of support they’re comfortable with by including an array of built-in privacy features.
“We’ve designed the Base Station to improve our customer’s ability to self-direct their lives and control the level of support they’re comfortable with by including an array of built-in privacy features.”
The Base Station includes an advanced, full-duplex intercom. With the push of a button, this intercom can be programmed to call an individual’s family, a support center, or both. The system includes a redundancy feature for safety that, when a call isn’t answered by one source, automatically routes the call immediately to a backup option. The system can also accept incoming calls from a support center, but with an additional privacy feature called “virtual knocking” wherein a “knocking” sound notifies a resident that a call is incoming.
iLink offers another call option via an auto-dial phone. This works the same way our intercom does when connecting to an individual’s family or a support center but provides an additional option better suited for residents who may experience hearing issues or who want complete privacy between them and the remote support caregiver on the other end of the line.
iLink Assist: The software behind our hardware
Our iLink Base Station not only serves as the home for our intercom system but also connects to a variety of in-home sensors. The reality of sensors is that they are only capable of sending on/off signals which must be interpreted. But iLink Assist is our logic-based, proprietary software that is able to make sense out of the signals received, filtering out unnecessary intrusions or triggering someone to help when it’s needed. Also thanks to iLink Assist, most of iLink’s features are fully configurable and developed to advance privacy in ways that were previously impossible. Yes, iLink allows residents to self-direct care, but also allows for support staff to remotely teach and coach to improve skills.
The beautiful thing about iLink Assist is that it can be configured to the resident’s exact specifications so that it can appropriately interpret when a need arises.
“The beautiful thing about iLink Assist is that it can be configured to the resident’s exact specifications so that it can appropriately interpret when a need arises.”
For example, if a resident gets up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, a sensor will notice. But getting up at night to use the restroom is a fairly common action that doesn’t necessarily require remote assistance so, iLink Assist will filter out this notification. If, however, the resident does not return to bed in 10, 20, or 30 minutes—whichever amount of time is determined in-advance by the resident/guardian—staff will be alerted to virtually check-in and/or deploy in-person support.
The Kiosk: Information Central
Included in the iLink system is an all-in-one touchscreen kiosk to support both staff and residents. For staff, the kiosk is a one-stop-shop for info, linking systems (like payroll, training, handbooks, calendars, access to professional nursing or behavioral supports, and more). For residents, the kiosk offers one-touch controls for self-direction, where cameras may be turned on/off. Also included on the kiosk is a “Who’s Helping Me” button. This screen shows cheerful, animated GIFs of each remote support professional serving the resident that day. When providing care, we understand how important it is for residents to feel comfortable with the staff serving them, so we designed a way for residents to see who they might speak to that day. As shifts change, the GIFs are updated to reflect the new group of individuals working.
Cameras: To install or not to install
We understand that, when it comes to care, some old-fashioned ideas persist when discussing the use of in-home cameras. With this in-mind, we specifically designed our iLink infrastructure to offer options that include cameras and options that exclude cameras. It is important to note, however, that camera technology has advanced rapidly within the last several years and iLink’s current privacy-enhancing capabilities are astounding.
“We must always be mindful as we balance support against any invasion of privacy. At the end of the day, cameras will always offer a higher level of privacy than residents would otherwise receive with in-home care staff.”
iLink cameras now offer a wide variety of privacy-enhancing options that can be directed by a resident, their care team, and their family. iLink cameras see in all directions (360º) which allows us to install very few per home. We also offer specialty cameras for monitoring medication administration and external cameras for added security. Current in-home 360º cameras offer options to show only outlines of a person, options to blur or pixelate the image of a person in certain locations, and options to completely mask out certain locations in a home so they are not visible. These privacy features combined with the logic of iLink Assist provides a high-level of privacy that is 100% configurable.
We must always be mindful as we balance support against any invasion of privacy. At the end of the day, cameras will always offer a higher level of privacy than residents would otherwise receive with in-home care staff. In-home cameras can offer opportunities for remote care staff to virtually assist residents, teach skills, and offer necessary support that helps advance residents’ self-direction capabilities. iLink makes it possible to support people in ways that were previously impossible and provide an affordable, sustainable alternative to congregate care.
NFC Tags: Easy to access information
iLink also uses NFC tags for a variety of applications. NFC stands for “Near Field Communication” and requires only two components: the programmed NFC card and a cell phone. NFC technology, when combined with iLink Assist, can be used by staff to clock-in and out of homes. With the tap of a phone to the card, the system will record the time, the staff person, and will geolocate them at the home. This feature can also be used to record bed checks at night or can be used for residents as they’re leaving and coming home. If staff have not performed certain tasks (and used the NFC tag to record it) that must be performed on a schedule, iLink Assist can automatically send prompts to either staff or managers to remind them to complete that task.
Our FYI system uses NFC tags to provide up-to-date information for staff or residents throughout the home: imagine an FYI card on the fridge that outlines the resident’s food allergies, or a card inside the cupboard with their favorite recipes, or a card next to the phone with important contacts. FYI cards can be used anywhere to provide task how-tos, care instructions, and more.
The truth is that traditional care and support approaches are intrusive in many ways. Care models are typically designed to cost-effectively deliver staff 24/7 around needs that ebb and flow at predictable and unpredictable times. Group homes, assisted living, day programs, and clinics are all examples of congregate models of care where staffing ratios cost-effectively satisfy known and unknown fluctuating needs. Congregate models of care are typically highly structured and require life-changing compromises in daily living routines in exchange for care.
“The next generation of support will surely be a combination of virtual and in-person services leveraged by an infrastructure of advanced technologies that enhance independence, privacy, and safe care as we move toward the vision of the Final Rule.”
As you can see, iLink’s technology allows an endless gradient of privacy, can filter out intrusive, just-in-case care, and can increasingly pinpoint when help is needed in personalized ways that cultivate greater independence, privacy, and control—all of which is not possible with traditional staffing approaches. The next generation of support will surely be a combination of virtual and in-person services leveraged by an infrastructure of advanced technologies that enhance independence, privacy, and safe care as we move toward the vision of the Final Rule.
For the last part of our Tech Enabled Service Models mini-series, we will look at some case-studies and explore iLink from a provider’s perspective which will allow us to delve into how we improve self-direction, staff support, quality control, privacy, unwelcome intrusions, choice and control, remote-teaching, and more with advanced and carefully-designed technology integrations, so stay tuned!
Embracing future models of care can be really overwhelming, but innovation is often easier to access and integrate than you might think! If you’re interested in working with our specialized GoodLife U team to affordably and sustainably explore next-generation service models including those that utilize iLink, please reach out to us. We’d love to connect with you.